Finding Time for Your Health and Fitness


Every fitness trainer has heard the famous, “I have no time to work out.” Maybe even from you. If so, let’s delete that self-deception from your mindset and replace it with a more honest, “It’s not my priority, at least not right now.”


Ouch, right? I mean you say working out and taking care of yourself are priorities, but unfortunately, it’s what you do, not what you say, that determines what your priorities are.


You and I, and everyone alive, have 168 hours per week to spend as we see fit, making time most dear and precious. Thus we’d be wise to be especially mindful of how we invest ourselves in our daily lives, don’t you agree? After all, as the saying goes, “Those who think they have no time for healthy activities will sooner or later have to find the time for illness.” Ouch again, right?


Sure, you have obligations to family, work, social groups you belong to, etc.  Wisely investing time for your health and fitness can reduce your stress level, while helping you sleep better, think healthier, increase your stamina and add to the overall quality of your life. If there’s anything better than exercise that you can do for yourself, your health, mood, stress level, brain fitness, memory, learning skills, attention and concentration, weight management, sleep, energy, productivity, self-esteem, relationships, and even your sex life, I don’t think it’s been invented yet.


Looking for some motivation? When inactive people increase physical activity by just 15 minutes a day, they reduce the risk of premature death by 14% and increase life expectancy by three years. 15 minute bursts of exercise a day for three years of life is not a bad trade off!


In fact, in a recent study by J.B. Gillen, et al. reported in PLOS ONE, sedentary men did 10-minute sessions of high-intensity interval training, while another group did moderately intense workouts lasting 50 minutes each. After 12 weeks of three-times per week workouts, both groups showed equal cardiovascular improvements. So what’s this about no time?


Do you have stairs at work? Do a two-minute warm-up, walking slowly up and down the stairs. Then run up the stairs as quickly (and safely) as you can for no more than 20 seconds. Then, take a two-minute walk up and down a hallway, and then do the stair climb again for another 20 seconds. Do a third round and take a few minutes of slowly walking and climbing the stairs. Guess what? Those 10 minutes will, according to Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, result in significantly improved aerobic fitness, comparable to those who run or cycle for hours each week. No time?


Once you ditch the idea of the “all or nothing” mindset, you can find weights at your desk to lift several times a day, bring a stability ball with you to the office to fidget and to sit on to strengthen your core, burn 300 calories or more each day compared to just being sedentary, or turn to the scientific 7-minute workout app, and of course never – ever, just wait in line without lunges, squats, shoulder rolls – yes, they’ll look at you like you’re strange, but so what? Find the value in becoming a morning exerciser, even if it means a 30-minute walk around the block before getting the day started. This may mean keeping your workout clothes right next to your bed, or even wearing them to sleep. You do watch TV, right? Who says that has to be a passive activity? Be an active TV watcher. Push ups, crunches, jumping jacks, squats, planks, are all so much healthier than the commercials, right? Of course, having some home equipment like the Total Gym, means that you can do a terrific quick workout in whatever spare time you can carve out.


That dog of yours, remember, is a trainer with hair. Every time you take Fido for a walk, you have the chance to speed it up, do some leg stretches, lunges, carry dumbbells with you to do bicep curls, and you’ll get in some fitness as well.


A simple home workout that takes about 20 minutes with big payoff might include doing dumbbell swings, 15 each arm, pushups with a 2 second hold at the bottom, 12 reps, dumbbell lunge hold (stay in a deep lunge, holding your dumbbell on the same side as your rear leg) 10 seconds each side, plank, 30 seconds, mountain climbers, 20 reps.


Remember, “I have no time,” is a self-deception. If you want to, you will. If you don’t want to, you’ll find an excuse. With the right pre-planning, you can overcome that “no time” excuse and reap wonderful benefits for your health.

Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

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